The Justice Department on Tuesday reversed course and said Trump can be held personally liable in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit.
This is a reversal from the DOJ’s position that Trump was protected by the Westfall Act because he was president when he made the statements about E. Jean Carroll.
In 2019, E. Jean Carroll alleged Donald Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s.
Trump has denied the allegations and called E. Jean Carroll a “whack job” who’s “not my type.”
In May the jury found Trump sexually abused and defamed Carroll and ordered him to pay $5 million in damages.
Trump blasted E Jean. Carroll during a CNN town hall a couple of weeks after the verdict.
“What kind of a woman meets somebody and brings them up and within minutes you’re playing hanky-panky in a dressing room?” Trump said, adding the accusation was a ‘fake’ and ‘made-up story.’
E. Jean Carroll went after Trump again and sought new substantial damages over his statements during the CNN town hall even though a jury already concluded Trump did not rape the woman!
Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan (no relation to Judge Lewis Kaplan) cheered the DOJ’s reversal and said it was one of the last obstacles to the latest lawsuit reaching trial.
“We are grateful that the Department of Justice has reconsidered its position,” Kaplan said in a statement. “We have always believed that Donald Trump made his defamatory statements about our client in June 2019 out of personal animus, ill will, and spite, and not as President of the United States.”
The trial is scheduled for next January.
The Justice Department on Tuesday said that Donald Trump can be held personally liable for remarks he made about a woman who accused him of rape — a reversal of its position that Trump was protected because he was president when he made the remarks.
In a letter filed with the judge presiding over a defamation lawsuit that columnist E. Jean Carroll brought in Manhattan federal court in 2020, the department says it no longer has “a sufficient basis” to conclude that Trump was motivated in his statements about Carroll’s claims by more than an insignificant desire to serve the United States.
Previously, the department had agreed with Trump’s attorneys that he was protected from the lawsuit by the Westfall Act, which provides federal employees absolute immunity from lawsuits brought over conduct occurring within the scope of their employment.
Last month President Trump hit back at E. Jean Carroll with a defamation lawsuit, saying she falsely accused him of rape. This countersuit comes after a civil jury found him “guilty of sexual abuse and defamation,” but not rape, in May.
Filed in Manhattan federal court last month, Trump’s counterclaim cites Carroll’s post-verdict comments on CNN.